Should Have Retired That Argument When You Did

, , , , | Right | November 20, 2018

(I am working the cloakroom at a huge theatre where one of Wagner’s operas is playing. Since Wagner was Hitler’s favourite musician and was kind of antisemitic himself, these performances tend to bring out a lot of racists. I am working the cloakroom with the second-in-command supervisor, who is very obviously not Caucasian and speaks German quite well, though with an accent. It is summer, so there aren’t many coats, and my supervisor has gone dealing with a customer elsewhere when a 75-year-old lady in a fur coat arrives and checks it in with me. A few minutes later she comes back while I am serving another customer and wants to check her vest, as well.)

Me: *to my colleague* “It’s [number]; just put it with the fur coat.”

Colleague: “Could I please just check the number to make sure?”

Customer: *handing her the number* “Well, you can trust your colleague. Even though our country is getting more stupid every day due to immigration.”

(She leaves. We look at each other in a “What’s her problem?” manner and shrug it off. At the end of the performance, the woman is one of the last ones to pick up her coat, so I am already clearing the area, when I see her arguing with my colleague.)

Customer: “You should really be more friendly to Austrian people!”

Colleague: “I’m sorry, what?”

Customer: “You get to stay and eat here, while we each pay hundreds of Euros in taxes every month for you to get everything here for free!

Colleague: “I pay taxes here, too.”

Customer: *continues her rant* “…and all you people just come here and take everything, and there is nothing left for us!”

(I step in, because even though my colleague speaks German very well, she just can’t defend herself against a rant in a deep Viennese dialect.)

Me: “Madam, she works over two hundred hours a month, and she pays taxes. Please don’t assume—”

Customer: “Now you just shut up! You have no idea what I’m talking about! These foreigners just keep coming here, and they live off of our taxes while we have to work and pay for everything!”

(I’m fuming by now, and I’m not holding back, because the first-in-command is my colleague’s best friend, so I’m not really worried about consequences.)

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but you are clearly retired, so if anything, you are living off of her taxes. Now, please leave, and if you have a problem with me now, you can take it up with my Albanian supervisor, the Columbian theatre supervisor, or the French Head of the House!”

(She left grumbling. Over the next two weeks she came to three more Wagner performances. At the next one, I saw her look at me and walk over to the other cloakroom just to come back and check her coat with me ,anyway; the other cloakroom was worked by two Egyptians. As the person who almost yelled at her for being racist, I still was the most desirable option as the most Aryan-looking of all of the cloakroom people. By the third performance, she just left her coat at home.)

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